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Features

05 Nov 2013
About 30 miles east of Indio, perched on the high ground of Chiriaco Summit, stands the General Patton Memorial Museum. It is located at the heart of what was the Desert Training Center, established by Gen. George S. Patton in 1942 to train American troops in desert warfare in preparation for the invasion of North Africa. In its brief, two-year existence, it became the largest Army training facility in the United States, through which passed 60 divisions and more than 1 million soldiers. On Monday, Nov. 11—Veterans Day—a crowd of some 1,000 dignitaries, honorees, veterans and their families will gather in this space with local citizens to recognize the contributions and sacrifices of all American veterans. This year, the traditional event will serve a dual purpose: It will be a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the museum as well. “This 25th anniversary celebration of the museum’s opening is a…
25 Oct 2013
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The LGBT community celebrated on June 26 when the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on United States v. Windsor struck down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act—and Hollingsworth v. Perry overturned California’s Proposition 8 and therefore allowed LGBT couples here to get married. These were historic decisions for LGBT Californians—but they’ve been a long time coming, and the fight for marriage equality continues in the majority of the United States. On June 28, 1969, in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City, the fight for gay rights began in earnest when the Stonewall Inn was raided by police. As officers loaded some of the patrons into the patrol wagon, the crowd began to sing “We Shall Overcome.” When a scuffle between a woman in handcuffs and four police officers broke out, the crowd began to fight back. What’s believed to be the first gay pride march took…
11 Oct 2013
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Palm Springs is known for its large, vibrant gay population—and, therefore, for gay tourism as well. Enter Desert Adventures, and its new Gay Icons of Palm Springs Tour. Headquartered in Palm Desert, Desert Adventures offers a variety of local Jeep tours to the San Andreas Fault, Joshua Tree and the Indian Canyons. One of Desert Adventures’ guides, Bob Gross of Rancho Mirage, had the idea for the new tour. “The company was looking to expand our outreach and make sure both locals and visitors knew our tours were fun and available to be led by gay guides like myself or another guide, Carlos Salas,” said Gross, who joined the company about two years ago after retiring from AT&T. “As for the Icons Tour, specifically, things get kind of slow for us during the summer due to the heat, so I went to my boss and said I'd like to create…
06 Sep 2013
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The tall, shadowy figure of a man with a sheepish grin has been spotted roaming the grounds of the La Quinta Resort. The man, who also wears a large hat, has reportedly appeared at the foot of a bed, and has occasionally been spotted gazing into a window. A security camera, perhaps, once saw him, too—as a dark mass moving swiftly down an otherwise empty passageway. Enter the Palm Springs Paranormal Investigation Team. The small, somewhat underground group investigates reported hauntings—and welcomes any skeptic or adventurer who is willing to join in the hunt. Donnie Thompson is joined by Jorge P., documentarian; Gloria R., medium/sensitive; and Jana B., “seasoned” investigator and technical adviser. At a recent, invite-only meeting, they decided to investigate the La Quinta Resort. The La Quinta Resort, built in 1924, has long been the site of apparitions and “sightings,” as reported by many guests and employees. The…
26 Jul 2013
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Since 1985, the American Cancer Society has held Relay for Life fundraising events in thousands of cities across the world. But as far as local organizers know, there’s never been a Relay for Life quite like the one taking place next Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2 and 3, at the Riviera Palm Springs. The Relay for Life formula is fairly tried and true: People form teams, gather pledges, and then take turns walking or running around a track (at a high school, for example) for a certain time period—often 24 hours. Spectators and supporters can show up and buy items from the various teams, each of which has a table set up. The proceeds go to the American Cancer Society—and those proceeds can be substantial: Cathedral City’s Relay for Life generally raises around $80,000 per year, and little Yucca Valley’s garners $100,000, said Jennifer Heggie, the local ACS Relay for…
22 Jul 2013
Contact in the Desert is “a gathering of the superstars of UFOlogy.” That’s how spokesperson and lecturer Michael Luckman described the event, slated for Friday, Aug. 9, through Sunday, Aug. 11, at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center. Organizers hope Contact in the Desert—which will feature lectures, workshops and interactive experiences conducted by 32 renowned experts in the topics of UFO sightings, extra-terrestrial contacts and proactive ET-signaling—will become an annual event. “More than 400 military personnel have given videotaped depositions worldwide saying that UFOs are real. They’ve had sightings and encounters,” said Luckman, “When so many military eyewitnesses come forward, there really is very little left to debate.” Luckman is also the founder of Cosmic Majority, which calls on “the governments of the world to implement an early warning detection system designed to reduce the growing meteor and asteroid threat.” Contact in the Desert comes on the heels of the Citizen…
04 Jun 2013
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Over the last decade, roller derby has made a massive comeback. Roller derby—a sport that was created in the 1930s—began that comeback in part because of all-female amateur leagues that started in places like Austin, Texas. It's slowly been catching fire across the nation and around the world. In fact, ESPN recently called roller derby the fastest-growing sport in the world. Many women of roller derby today are dedicated athletes, and women of all ages and backgrounds are signing up for local teams. The sport has gone back to its strategic and competitive roots after becoming something like a WWE on roller skates in the 1980s, when bouts had the reputation of being violent, and the winning teams were predetermined in some leagues. However, the amusing pseudonyms of individual players remain intact. In June 2012, Jessica Jeffries (known as Jessi James), who had moved to the Coachella Valley from San…
18 May 2013
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The Salton Sea area’s Salvation Mountain was handmade by folk artist Leonard Knight. That is right—handmade. By himself. Every single line of paint, every tree limb, every handmade flower on the walls, every “Jesus” written on the side of the 50-foot-tall mountain—all of it. Originally from the East Coast, Knight came out here to fly a balloon across the United States that he had made in the name of God, but the materials kept rotting. So Knight moved on to his new project and began to use what natural and materials were available to him. Using adobe clay, hay, water, found objects (such as tires and car parts) and—according to Leonard—a lot of faith, he built this gigantic tribute to God in the 1980s, epitomized by the words "God is Love" standing out underneath a giant cross at the top. Both religious and nonreligious people's faces light up when they…
09 May 2013
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Once I stepped into the one-story building off of Highway 111 near North Shore, I knew I would be going bananas. After all, this building is the home of the International Banana Museum. The first sense that is tested at the museum is smell, as you take in the aroma of banana-nut-bread candles. It’s a bit overwhelming at first, but it becomes a welcome cloak as you peruse the collection. Vision is the second sense that is bombarded: It’s hard to describe the sheer amount of banana-related items in that room. Books on bananas, plastic bananas, food with bananas, stuffed toy bananas, stuffed toy monkeys with bananas, Christmas banana trees, banana stickers, jewelry-encrusted plastic bananas, banana snow globes, crème de banana liqueur, banana monkey necklaces, a flute in the shape of a banana … the list goes on. The purchaser of the original Banana Club collection started by Ken Bannister, …
29 Apr 2013
Javier Avila and Calani Raceles are two young men with mental challenges doing the unimaginable—playing baseball. “At first, my son didn’t even want to show up. He couldn’t catch a ball, let alone hold a bat. Through this program, his hand-eye coordination skills have improved, and he can do all those things,” says Enia Raceles, Calani’s mother. “Now he looks forward to each Friday so he can hit again and talk to his baseball friends.” Both Javier and Calani are players in the Challenger division of Coachella Little League. The program is made up of more than 20 physically and mentally challenged young people with disabilities including autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. The division started in 2010 and is the only one in the Coachella Valley. “As the only division of its kind here in the Coachella Valley, we want to teach everyone with a disability that you can…